Fainting from lack of food the young woman collapsed on the sidewalk. Vitamins probably would have been a good supplement but the entire stock had been destroyed. After it was discovered they contained a deadly toxin the sole Chinese vitamin producer refused to allow the inspection of their facilities. Food was scarce, but worse yet it was becoming down right rare. Most of the groceries couldn’t keep the shelves properly stocked – there just wasn’t anything being grown in many former agricultural regions.
Any foodstuffs that could be found were usually way beyond the reach of the poor. When premiums skyrocketed for all forms of insurance, gasoline prices kept increasing, and wages remained stagnant it didn’t matter whether the economies of some nations were adding more poorly paid workers to an already economically tapped out labor force.
The majority of folks had stopped dreaming of a better life, they were too preoccupied with surviving to the next day. They considered themselves lucky if they escaped a catastrophe that could throw them over the edge into financial ruin. Without savings to buffet an unexpected life-event most of the former middleclass had plunged directly into abject poverty. Real income had been declining for decades; jobs across all professions had experienced falling wages a direct result of the onslaught of cheap labor saturating developed nations.
No amount of sugar-coating could hide the effects of a lousy global economy for those experiencing it on a daily basis. Those on Wall Street who were luxuriating in their crystal palaces, enjoying double digit growth in their investment portfolios had deluded themselves into believing they were immune from a suffocating real economy fueled not on income but hot air. So when the bottom fell out they were shocked to learn that they actually needed those workers and regular citizens that had lost their pool of discretionary income.
What really floored these fools was that you just couldn’t rely on getting something for nothing. Labor arbitrage tore the guts out of already anemic real wages even in supposedly immune professions like those in the technology sector. No longer able to shored-up what remained of decimated consumer demand even those workers who once earned real wages that were well above the median watched in horror as their incomes fell.
Most of damage had already been done when the first of many external shocks hit.
Global warming exasperated by the same income leaching tactics employed by elite leaches when they cut the fuel line to the economic engine had worsened. This choking-off of essential income left fewer resources available for factory and other infrastructure improvements that could have lessened or prevented disasters brought on by a plant’s destabilized dynamic system. There just wasn’t any income available; it had all been vacuumed up into the coffers of the superrich. Nothing remained that could be used to build for a better tomorrow. We were now myopically focused on survival.
The Masters-of-the-Universe crowd who were addicted to kilos of drugs, endless parties, orgies, and spending binges refused to concede that it was their hording of income that caused the chain reaction of events that led to the destruction of humanity.
It was the environmental shocks particularly the droughts in key agricultural areas that jettisoned even their illusion of normalcy. Sending the planet’s inhabitants both sentient and savage into scavenging mode in search of food it was now indisputable that every form of edible plant life was in jeopardy.
All that remains to be done is light the fires. The young woman’s staring eyes flicker with a brief conscious glimmer before the flames consume all the unrealized hopes of this, the last generation.